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MrFlibble

Kaos - obscure "Doom clone" from Italy (also open source)

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Last year I came across a YouTube channel that streamed various obscure DOS-era first-person shooters, and a game called Kaos caught my attention, as it stood out as something more inspired and aesthetically consistent than many other Doom ripoffs that were made back in the day.

 

Here's a video (from another channel) showing some pre-recorded demos:

The game was developed by a small team from Italy. Apparently they initially intended to sell it via the shareware model but that never materialized, and in 2003 the DOS binaries, level editor all game data and the entire source code were released as freeware under the GPL license, both online and on the coverdisk of an issue of the Italian gaming magazine The Games Machine.

 

Technically speaking, the game engine is closer to something akin to Rise of the Triad or ShadowCaster than Doom, i.e. there are only orthogonal walls at fixed height. However it allows for both indoor and outdoor areas within the same level, outdoor weather effects like rain, non-passable water and destructible objects (e.g. potted plants and barrels). There are six weapons and five enemy types, the final release comes with several complete levels but there are up to 13 single-player level slots plus some multiplayer levels. Multiplayer is split-screen only AFAIK.

 

I got a favourable impression of Kaos first and foremost because it seems to capture that spirit and aesthetics of 90s shareware games. It's simple but functional, the palette has nice soft colours and the monster sprites and other art have a certain hand-drawn style to them. The core gameplay elements of an FPS are all present, and I wonder what a competent level designer could do with the level editor. I have no idea how hard it would be to port this game to modern systems though, even with the source available. But it runs seamlessly in DOSBox as it is.


The entire game and source may be downloaded here.

 

As a bit of trivia, apparently (I had to plough through the supplied documentation and notes with Google translate since my knowledge of Italian is nonexistent), at the initial stages the team intended to create a "hobo simulator" with their engine, but eventually settled for a rather simple Doom like game.

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I never heard about this one, looks very cool! I will give it a try (I also need to finish Mars 3D)

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The Flibble strikes again!
@MrFlibble
Hilariously, this isn't the first time i heard of Kaos, but it is the first time seeing it presented in this way. I think you discovered through the same means as i did (Werta Best?) and its really interesting to see this one. Technically very sound for its time but you can tell its Doom in a lot of ways, except on the technical front.

Definitely worth the attention it deserves!

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Looks decent, I'll give it a try! But, according to the page,

Quote

In DOSBox, you need to set CPU cycles to around 26000 for the game to run at an acceptable speed, as it is a real mode application (so DOSBox won't switch to maximum possible cycles automatically).

Is it accurate or can it actually be run without setting the CPU cycles manually?

17 hours ago, Noiser said:

I never heard about this one, looks very cool! I will give it a try (I also need to finish Mars 3D)

I wanna have my hands on the translated Mars 3D game, but there hasn't been any ISO on that one yet, as there's still 7 unsold copies. :(

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I swear someone used to have that mugshot as their avatar on these forums at one point.

 

I'll have to put it on my list of things to check out when I get a chance.

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On 3/8/2020 at 1:39 AM, Redneckerz said:

I think you discovered through the same means as i did (Werta Best?) and its really interesting to see this one.

I'm familiar with WERTA from another forum, but I think the first video of Kaos that I found was in this stream:

 

On 3/8/2020 at 3:01 PM, InDOOMnesia said:

Is it accurate or can it actually be run without setting the CPU cycles manually?

Just put the right cycles in dosbox.conf. You'll need to edit one line:

cycles=max 80% limit 26800

This will cap emulated CPU cycles at 26800, which is supposedly a rough equivalent of a 486, as opposed to forcing a fixed amount of cycles for the entirety of the DOSBox session. I believe limiting cycles like this results in better performance.

 

Personally I don't usually have individual .conf files for every game I run in DOSBox, by default I use auto 7800 70% limit 26800 which is enough to most games but does not switch to max 26800 cycles if a game runs in real mode. BTW, it's a good idea to use DOSBox ECE, not vanilla DOSBox, but actually I found that an old build of SVN Daum works just fine for me.

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1 hour ago, MrFlibble said:

I'm familiar with WERTA from another forum, but I think the first video of Kaos that I found was in this stream:

I believe i had that channel somewhere, but this 6.5! hour long video is something else, thank you.

If anything, you may want to mention this to HOFG, who is practically devoted to uploading gameplay of every game out there.

 

Whilst you are at it, check Russian Roulette 2 :)

 

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On 3/8/2020 at 11:40 PM, ETTiNGRiNDER said:

I swear someone used to have that mugshot as their avatar on these forums at one point.

 

I'll have to put it on my list of things to check out when I get a chance.

They definitely did although I can remember who. That mug instantly looked familiar!

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